It’s crunch time for UCLASS. On September 10th — after multiple delays — the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer and his Defense Acquisition Board will sit in judgment on the proposed combat drone. The question: how best to bring the robot revolution to the deck of the 90-year-old aircraft carrier. The “Unmanned Carrier-Launched Airborne Surveillance and… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: August is the month of decision for UCLASS, the Navy’s controversial program to build armed drones that fly off aircraft carriers. At stake: whether the “Unmanned Carrier-Launched Surveillance & Strike” aircraft will be primarily a scout (surveillance) or a bomber (strike). The new Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bob Work, delayed the Navy’s release of… Keep reading →
EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, FLORIDA: Even as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel flew here with much fanfare to reaffirm his “strong, strong confidence” in the troubled F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Air Force quietly let slip they have started a competition for the Long-Range Strike Bomber. The two programs could hardly be more different. JSF is… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The People’s Liberation Army has practiced jamming GPS signals, according to a Pentagon report today. The Chinese are testing those and other electronic warfare weapons and they have “proven effective.” China plans to launch 100 satellites through 2015, including “imaging, remote sensing, navigation, communication, and scientific satellites, as well as manned spacecraft,” says a… Keep reading →
WASHINGTON: The Boeing Super Hornet might have a new best friend in Congress. A year after the Saint Louis-built fighter jet’s biggest backer in Congress, then-Rep. Todd Akin, went down in electoral flames because of controversial remarks about “legitimate rape,” the influential chairman of the House Armed Services subcommittee on Seapower, Rep. Randy Forbes, has… Keep reading →
PENTAGON: While the Air Force and the Marines stake their future on a great leap forward to the stealthy F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the Navy is taking what one officer called “baby steps” into the future: a careful, incremental upgrade of electronic warfare systems to jam enemy radar instead of just hiding from it. The fleet is moving, slowly but surely, from 1960s-vintage EA-6B Prowlers carrying 1970s-vintage jamming pods — complete with vacuum tubes — to supersonic EA-18G Growlers armed, as of 2020, with a digital Next-Generation Jammer.
Despite persistent rumors the Navy will cut back its F-35 purchase, the service remains officially committed to a carrier-launched version of the F-35, the F-35C. They’re just not counting on the F-35 to penetrate increasingly sophisticated air defenses on its own. Keep reading →
[Corrected 9:35 pm with a note about the EC-130 Compass Call] Is stealth still America’s silver bullet? Or are potential adversaries’ radars getting too smart for US aircraft to keep hiding from them?
That’s literally the trillion-dollar question, because the US military is investing massively in new stealth aircraft. At stake in this debate are not just budgets but America’s continued ability to project power around the world. Keep reading →
WHIDBEY ISLAND, WASHINGTON: “Every two weeks, we get another Growler,” Cmdr. Christopher Middleton said at the Navy’s electronic warfare hub here. The Navy target is to buy 114 EA-18G Growler aircraft. And it’s those Growler aircraft that will be the cutting edge of future Naval strikes against future “anti-access area denial” defenses like those being built by China.
To break through such defenses, the Navy is very publicly working on a joint “AirSea Battle” concept with the Air Force, but the two services have taken starkly different approaches to defeating enemy radar. Keep reading →
The People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) is becoming “much smaller but much more technologically sophisticated,” said Phillip Saunders, director of the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs at National Defense University, in a talk Monday afternoon at the Air Force Association’s annual conference here. Keep reading →
LAS VEGAS: Drones rule the skies over Afghanistan. But the next war may be a different story. “We’re fighting cavemen that aren’t shooting back,” said Lt. Col. Kevin Murray. “That’s not where we’re going.”
An enemy more high-tech than the Taliban — which doesn’t take much — could jam or hack the datalinks used to control American drones, or just plain shoot them down. Last year, Iran reportedly brought down a RQ-170 spy drone with a cyber attack. To survive in unfriendly skies, Murray said, unmanned aircraft must be “joint, common, interoperable, and survivable — and we are none of those things right now.” Keep reading →